Last night I was supposed to have a social life. I was supposed to attend a goal setting club meeting with one of my friends and “make new friends” and ignite the reward center of my brain participating in my favorite activity (goal setting) and I was supposed to feel happy about it. The truth of the matter is around 1:00pm I wasn’t feeling so happy. I was feeling anxious. Working with babies all day is incredibly draining and often leaves me dreading any sort of social obligation other than curling up in bed with a bowl of ice cream and the latest issue of Glamour combine exhaustion with a minor case of social anxiety and you have a homebody and a half (coining that “genius” term for myself).
I don’t think my job is any more draining than the average person’s (although I do challenge anyone who says being a nanny is “easy” to spend an 11 hour day with 7 month old twins) but I do recognize that my personality type requires more “me time” to feel sane. At the end of a typical work day I don’t want to see my friends in the slightest. I crave solo time making dinner, doing laundry, watching Girls with a face mask on and teeth whitening strips in. I want to fall asleep by 10:00 and I don’t want to feel guilty about it. Yet despite owning my innate introverted-ness there will always be a big part of me that wants to be an extrovert.
I like who I am and the way I function yet there is a teeny tiny voice within me that isn’t okay with taking time to sip tea and paint my nails. The voice says “Be social! Plan activities! Make Friends!“. In so many ways I am grateful for this voice. It encouraged me to try out for cheer, join a sorority and start a chapter of Her Campus. I think there is room and reason for this voice (I don’t want to lock myself up at home every day) but I also think there are times I allow this voice to be too loud. The inner voice that encourages me to book up every evening with social obligations isn’t listening to what my heart requires for wellness but rather is comparing me to a standard that doesn’t make sense. I have friends who can go to happy hour every evening after class or work and remain perfectly sane. In fact I can’t even imagine my best friend taking a single evening to be by herself. It just isn’t her personality. I can’t compare myself to those people though. My brain isn’t wired the same way. So why continue to schedule my life as if it is? Why continue saying “yes” to plans only to create further anxiety when I decide to cancel? It’s a struggle and I know it’s not just a me struggle because I see other people learning to say “no” all over the internet. Wouldn’t it be better to simply allot myself an evening or two each week just for me and avoid all the crazy panic and canceling (& post canceling guilt) altogether?
It’s okay if you need time for you! Take it! What’s not okay is consistently making plans and canceling (even if it’s just a coffee date) because you refused to allow yourself the time you need to properly “recharge” and be well. Do yourself a favor and learn how much “you time” you need and schedule it like you would dinner with a friend.
10 of my Favorite “Me Time” Activities:
1. Trying a new recipe all by myself while blasting Taylor Swift. I’m a nervous chef but when only I have to eat it there isn’t much pressure.
2. Taking a hot bath and reading a riveting book. Don’t be afraid to add more hot water when it gets cold, who cares if your skin is pruned!
3. Binge watching Gossip Girl and Gilmore Girls on Netflix while painting my nails. It’s the only time I actually let them dry properly!
5. Writing letters to my sweet friends who live far away and decorating the envelopes with pretty doodles and stickers.
6. Reorganizing my closet and ironing all of my wrinkled clothes. It’s not inherently fun but it’s crazy how satisfying it feels afterwards.
7. Going on a long run (outside or at the gym) followed by a steaming hot shower.
8. Redecorating my cork/bulletin board. I love picking out cute pictures with friends and writing my favorite quotes and phrases to keep me inspired.
9. Catching up on laundry (am I the only one who at any given moment has at least 4 loads??) and rewarding myself with copious amounts of cookie dough.
10. Lighting a few candles, turning off the lights and journaling about emotions. I just have a lot of feelings okay?! (;
Do you deal with a similar form of social anxiety or are you guilty of saying “yes” to social obligations a little too often? How do you bow out of plans gracefully? What do you do to unwind during your alone time?